A legendary production that originated over a decade ago with New York's Elevator Repair Service theater company that takes on the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel The Great Gatsby in its entirety is coming to Berkeley Repertory Theatre in February for a special ten-day run.
The marathon show Gatz typically takes around eight hours in total including a two-hour dinner break and several intermissions, and by all accounts from critics who have seen it, it can't be missed. As lovers of the novel will know, Gatz is the real surname of Jay Gatsby, who in Chapter 6 we learn was born James Gatz.
"This could be mere event theatre gimmickry or mind-gnawingly boring, but every aspect of the production is so brilliantly conceived and executed that all doubts are overcome," wrote The Independent when the show played in London in 2008.
"[A] work of singular imagination and intelligence,” wrote the New York Times's Ben Brantley of the Public Theater's 2010 production. “The most remarkable achievement in theater not only of this year but also of this decade." It went on to win Obie and Lucille Lortel Awards in New York, and has since been performed as far away as Dubai and Lisbon.
Actor Scott Shepard will be reprising his role as Nick Carraway, Fitzgerald's narrator, and in Gatz, "Nick" is a man in a dead-end job who comes across a copy of The Great Gatsby on his desk while waiting for a computer to boot up. He begins reading, "In my younger and more vulnerable years..." and so begins the play, which is a word-for-word reenactment of the book that ends up blurring lines between the performers and Fitzgerald's text. As Brantley wrote, "The blurring of Nick the reader into Nick the narrator is, I promise you, unlike anything you’ve ever seen in the theater."
Other coworkers wander in as Nick reads, and become part of the story. Shepard, allegedly, knows the entire novel by heart now.
The Berkeley Rep production, as it originally was in 2006, is directed by John Collins and features some of its original company cast. It will open on Thursday February 13, 2020, and close on Sunday, February 23, running for just eight performances starting at 2 p.m., Thursday through Sunday.
Tickets are available here starting at $125 ($115 if you're under the age of 30). Below, a trailer.